Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FENNELL, James, actor, born in London, England, in 1766; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 June 1816. He was well educated, and studied for the bar, but made his first appearance as an actor in 1787 at the Edinburgh theatre, under the assumed name of Cambray. His success was such that he at once found an engagement at Covent Garden theatre, London, where he appeared at the end of the same year under his own name as Othello. He remained several seasons in London, acting and writing for dramatic publications, and later spent some time in Paris. In 1793, Fennell came to this country, and made his first appearance in Philadelphia with eminent success. From 1797 till 1806 he played in New York, Boston, and other cities as a star actor. Afterward he taught reading and elocution in Boston, and for a time kept an academy in Charlestown, Massachusetts. In 1814 he established extensive salt works near New London, Connecticut, which led to his financial ruin. In the early part of his career Fennell was an actor of promise. He was of commanding appearance, well educated, and carefully studied his characters. His Othello, Zanga, Glenalvon, and Pierre could hardly be excelled; but any permanent success was prevented by his eccentricity and irregular habits. He published "The Wheel of Truth," a. comedy; " Picture of Paris"; " Linden and Clara," a comedy (1791); "Proceedings at Paris" (1792); and "Apology for my Life" (Philadelphia, 1814).
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